Friday, February 17, 2017

Makerspace Expansion - Yes Please!

So what exactly is a makerspace and why expand it? A makerspace is any space where people can gather to wonder, tinker, try things out, create and learn with and from each other. They're fun, engaging and promote many of the skills and habits of mind that we want our students to take with them when they graduate.

Our makerspace opened during the 15-16 school year thanks to Mr. Chris Jones, our French language instructor. Working together with a few other teachers that shared the same 5th hour (lunch time) prep hour, he started with various cooking and art projects once a week (chocolate truffles were a big favorite!) Students would gather, create, design, have fun and socialize together. Now fast forward to the current school year. Over the summer we hired a S.T.E.M. director, Dr. Catherine Molloseau. We also, with student assistance, re-designed the layout of our library which opened up a much larger space which is perfect for students to gather before, during and after school for various activities.

So... Existing makerspace with limited meeting
times meets newly opened library space. Sprinkle in a little S.T.E.M., add a location move to the library desk for the Instructional Technology Specialist (me) and there you have it! The perfect recipe for a Makerspace Expansion!

The new expansion opened on the first day of second semester and students began dropping in throughout the day.  In the makerspace expansion they discovered 3D printing (both the full-size version and a hand-held 3D Doodler), Wacom drawing tablet, Arduino boards, Little Bits kits, Snap Circuits, access to coding resources, puzzles, duct tape, art supplies, clay, an iPad with stop-motion apps installed, button making, paper bead making, books that help spark the imagination or guide one through a project, yarn, fabric, glue guns, ink and stamps for making greeting cards, and the list goes on. Each Thursday students and staff can drop in during lunch to learn about coding, arduinos, or other maker topics. These might be led by Dr. Molloseau or it might be one of our many talented students. Our iPad help desk, manned by Mr. Josh Friederichs who is our 3D printing expert, is also located here so there is usually someone available to ask for assistance if it's needed.
It's been a busy few weeks since opening and we are looking forward to what our students can design and create in this new space. Oh, and just in case you're wondering... Yes, they still make chocolate truffles!

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